Ban on cement imports sparks debate

By Owen Mandovha

Retailers have expressed concern over the capacity of local cement manufacturing companies to satisfy demand in a sustainable manner after the ban on imports of the commodity.

The cement imports ban introduced by Government through SI 89 of 2021 has sparked fears that the move might trigger collusion among local cement producers causing prices increases and shortages of the commodity.

“We might be put out of business because we depend on imports from Zambia,” a buyer said.

Another added, “Our concern is that all along we had easy access to cement due to imports but local manufacturers prefer big agents.”

However, Buy Zimbabwe is of the view that tough as the policy may look, it is the way to go to create jobs.

“The local content policy strives to increase the consumption of local produce and it harnesses the creation of jobs so we thank Government for coming up with such a policy measure,” says Mr Munyaradzi Hwengwere, Buy Zimbabwe Executive Director.

One cement manufacturer allayed fears of shortages and possible collusion, noting that local producers have invested heavily to increase capacity.

Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Ms Precious Nyika allayed fears of cement shortages in the country.

“We have worked hard as Industry over the last couple of years reducing the price of cement from around 10 dollars per bag to the current 7.5 dollars. The country has an annual capacity of 2,6 million tonnes against the demand of 1.4 million so we can meet the demand,” she said.

If Zimbabwe continues to open borders to imports, this will flood the local market with cheap products, thus killing the local cement Industry, with revelations that the southern African region has excess cement producing capacity of at least 16 million, hence the move by government is a step in the right direction.

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